A slick operation

Sapphire’s Oliver King takes a look at how the oilfield services industry can improve efficiencies, paving the way for increased profitability

With oil prices having tumbled by 70 per cent over the last 18 months, the oil industry really is up against it, with businesses having to make significant reductions to costs as well as cutting back on any capital expenditure. Faced with the volatility of the market, alongside the usual industry pressures at play, oilfield services organisations are having to wake up to the fact that they need to drill efficiency savings out of all processes wherever possible. In short, to ensure survival, businesses need to increase efficiency, with a view to guaranteeing profitability.

For providers of drilling equipment, testing instrumentation and alike, even the smallest amount of downtime can mean big financial losses, not to mention missed business opportunities. Businesses require total visibility of asset utilisation, facilitating a complete understanding of what’s earning money and when. By enabling a view of the entire equipment inventory across the whole customer base at any one time, equipment suppliers can monitor asset uptime and downtime, factoring in servicing and transportation, to ensure equipment is not only up-and-running, but also to make sure it’s booked out backto- back. Idle equipment equates to lost revenue, something that technology can insure against, underpinning that allimportant visibility-analysis-selling cycle.

Maximising the useful life of costly equipment is extremely important, with regular maintenance and fault fixing an unavoidable chore for suppliers. By ensuring any servicing and maintenance work is carried out en-route to a project, for example during a journey of several days on board a ship, this minimises the time the equipment spends lying dormant, maximising uptime and the resulting financial returns.

But faced with a myriad of processes, people, equipment and projects, getting a tight grasp on all aspects of an oilfield service business is often easier said than done. Thankfully, the technology is out there to deliver this insight, enabling the monitoring and management of all projects as they happen, in real time. It’s only with this level of timely and accurate insight that organisations can leverage that all-important complete command of cost, time and profit, to make the necessary operational adjustments to optimise efficiencies and identify opportunities across the board.

Modern technology solutions are tailored to meet the very specific needs of the oilfield services industry, amalgamating service and repair, billing, payroll, rentals, dispatch, costings and compliance. This means up-to-the minute control of all areas of a project, enabling the ongoing analysis of timings and profitability without having to wait for the various departmental paperwork or reports to be submitted, or worst case, having to watch while projects overrun and project costs spiral out of control.

For example, when it comes to field tickets, manually keying-in field ticket data to disparate systems is a recipe for disaster, often leading to errors. With an all-in-one business solution, all data is entered into one system, which then seamlessly integrates billing with costings and payroll. The same can be said of work orders, where the fact that service and repair, billing and payroll are all integrated, alongside historical records of work performed, means more accurate data in less time, decreasing considerably the chance of error.

Getting a handle on overall project costs is always a difficult task, particularly when you consider the various origins of all costs, but the right solution can enable real time visibility into the profitability of any job, project or work order, as well as tracking costs for materials, labour and any third party activity. Again, this information is seamlessly integrated with third party billing, ensuring the accurate and timely allocation of costs to customer invoices.

Also, the technology exists to best manage the range of equipment required for certain projects. With regards to equipment rentals, the right solution affords the ability to manage the entire rentals process from one screen, and is again integrated with billing systems, increasing invoicing efficiency. Plus it will show the exact location and availability of any piece of equipment at any one time, in real time, with proactive maintenance alerts sent out as well to ensure optimum equipment availability and minimum downtime.

As with any project, people management is crucial. The best software will generate automated alerts informing the HR function when staff certifications are due for renewal or when compliance or accreditation deadlines are looming, and a labour time sheet accurately captures the man hours spent on particular projects, enabling the business to carryout in-depth labour analysis.

With the right software in place, oilfield service businesses can spend less time searching for and amalgamating information and more time analysing it, monitoring and managing everything from the initial job or contract setup, right through to billing and payroll. It’s only through this in-depth, comprehensive overview and analysis that businesses can make the necessary changes to processes and procedures to optimise productivity and reduce costs, standing the organisation in good stead to seize new business opportunities wherever possible.

What to look for in a software solution for the oilfield industry:
1. Find an industry-specific solution, which is tailored to meet the needs of the oilfield services industry
2. It’s important that it’s intuitive and easy-to-use. You want to streamline processes, not add another level of complexity
3. Cheapest doesn’t necessarily represent the best value. Look at the ongoing product support on offer before making a decision on the right system
4. Finally, biggest isn’t necessarily best. Make sure you pick the solution which fits the needs of the types of project you carry out – not one that you have to change too many processes to fit

Oliver King is Business Development Manager (Energy) at Sapphire Systems. Sapphire Systems is a global provider of some of the world’s leading software solutions, with first class customer service and support at its core. Its dedicated team of professionals apply their industry expertise and deep domain knowledge to understand customers’ needs and deliver solutions which help them to overcome challenges and drive performance in their respective markets.

For further information please visit: sapphiresystems.com